Committed to supporting a sustainable supply chain, the University works actively to source products that utilize recycled content, minimize the use of hazardous materials, and enable more efficient operation.
Since the mid-1990s, N.C. General Statutes 143-58.2 and 143-58.3 have promoted and outlined goals for the purchase of materials with recycled content. In 1999, then-Governer Jim Hunt went one step further by enacting Executive Order 156. This mandated that North Carolina state agencies “shall procure and use environmentally preferable goods and services, including products made wholly or in part from recycled materials, whenever feasible and practicable…Agencies shall give consideration to environmentally preferable products that are more energy efficient, less toxic, less polluting, and which generate less waste overall.”
Since 2000, the standard for all University paper purchases has been a minimum of 30 percent post-consumer recycled content. Currently, 30 percent and 100 percent recycled paper is available on state contract. In 2013, the University purchased 87 tons of post-consumer recycled paper. The University also tries to make smart purchasing choices with other products. The men’s basketball team wears uniforms made from recycled plastic bottles. The jerseys are made from at lest 96% recycled polyester. The Carolina graduation gowns are also made from recycled plastic bottles.
To reduce waste and maximize the use of existing resources, UNC’s Surplus Property Retail Store is one of the most sustainable purchasing options for University departments. Managed by Material and Disbursement Services, the Surplus Property Retail Store collects and sells unwanted or unusable equipment to eligible departments and the public. Reuse of furniture, information technology, and office items saves departments money and gives products a second life.
The Asset Management Trading Post is an informal online marketplace that allows University employees to find or make available both office and lab equipment. By extending the life of functional equipment, the program helps University departments save money and reduce resource use.
The University’s energy efficient purchasing policy, implemented in 2006, mandates the purchase of Energy Star-certified or equivalent equipment. For items where no such certification is available, such as laboratory equipment, purchasers must document the applicable energy efficiency rating. In January 2008, an energy efficient lighting policy led to the campus-wide phase out of incandescent bulbs.
Among the most resource- and energy-intensive products purchased frequently by the University are information technology equipment. To ensure responsible purchasing, select campus departments have implemented purchasing guidelines based on EPEAT certification. This rating system grades electronic products on 51 criteria related to environmentally sensitive materials, energy conservation, packaging, and design for end of life. Information Technology Services, the largest campus computer purchaser, specifies EPEAT Gold. Facilities Services—a 1,000-person department—specifies EPEAT Silver or Gold computers. In 2008, the Carolina Computing Initiative began offering an eco-model computer that costs only $25 more than comparable models, but saves $20 per year in energy costs. In 2014, Carolina spent $11,108,660 on new computers, 94% of which were EPEAT Gold or Silver level.